Ghanaian recipe: red-red

Red-red is a popular dish in Ghana, and it is normally made vegetarian. To my knowledge, the spots in Ghana will prepare this dish without any broth from meat or fish, but you never know…. If you want to be sure to avoid meat and fish, ask them if they use meat or broth from meat, fish or stock cubes in their stew. The other alternative is: make it yourself – it is delicious!

Red-red is a Ghanaian stew made from beans, and it gets the red color from the red palm oil that they use to prepare the stew, and most places it will also be prepared with tomato paste. It is most common to find it with black eyed beans, but any beans will do.


Palm oil is common in Ghana, and you will see them sold in plastic bottles in the markets. Worldwide there are discussions on the impact of the palm oil production on the environment and on animal species. This is especially regarding the situation in Asia, where large areas have been deforested to make space for mono culture palm tree plantations. To my knowledge, the same issue is not related to palm oil in West-Africa. Here they use the whole palm fruit to make to different types of oil. Palm oil is made from the mesocarp of the fruit and is used for cooking purposes, and palm kernel oil is made from the kernel. While reading about palm oil, I stumbled upon this great explanation of the two different palm oils.


This is my version of red-red, inspired by recipes I learned when living in Ghana.

250 grams dry black eyed beans
2,5 dl palm oil (the red type)
4 red onions, medium sized
1 small box tomato paste
1-2 red chili
2-3 cm fresh ginger
3 cloves of garlic
5 tomatoes
2-3 dl water
2-3 ts salt
pinch of sugar

If available: fresh plantain (food banana)
Possible substitute: rice

Wash and boil the beans for about 30 minutes or till soft. Drain them and put aside.
Add the palm oil and chopped onions in a pan, and boil for about 15 minutes. Add tomato paste and chopped chili, ginger and garlic, then chopped tomatoes, water, salt and a pinch of sugar. Let it boil for about 30 minutes, then add the drained beans. Bring to boil, and let it rest for about 15 minutes. Add more spices and salt to taste.

In the traditional cooking in Ghana the onion, chili, ginger, garlic and tomatoes will be grounded to a smooth paste. I prefer to chop it in small chunks.

red-redIf you have access to plantain: remove the peel, and chop the plantain in small pieces. Use your favorite oil to fry the banana until soft with a brownish color. Remove them from the oil, and drain on a kitchen paper and sprinkle with salt and other spices if you wish. If you want to make the real thing, I found this recipe for more advanced kelewele seasoned with a spice mix before frying on another blog.

If you don´t have access to plantain, the red-red can be served with boiled rice.
It may also be served with fresh vegetables – but that is not common in Ghana!


Do you have some favorite food from your travels?
Please share with us!


You may also be interested in this recipe for the Ghanaian groundnut soup.

About the Author Elin

I´m an Oslo based web publisher with passion for communication, travel and a green lifestyle. When I travel, I prefer to go slow, sustainable, and “live like a local”. Why slow? It is about challenging the cult of speed, and to enjoy the small things in life and to live in the present.

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